Internet opinion articles are everywhere. Blogs (like this one.) and News websites. Now, I have no problem with op-eds. As a former High School Newspaper Geek, I loved writing opinion articles. Why? Because I firmly believe that in order to live in a democracy, you need to be able to speak your mind. Yes, even if it’s controversial.
A few days ago, I was reading an op-ed by journalist John Stossel on FoxNews.com. The article was called “Everyone out of the Pool?”. In it, Stossel was talking about this 80,000 pages of new regulations congress is proposing. The rule he had the biggest problem was on page 56,235, the rule that says that Hotels should be required to put access ramps and/or lifts by their pools.
As a disabled person in a wheelchair, I don’t see a problem with Hotels being required to put in ramps. The only problem I have with it is that Hotels are already required to do this, because of the ADA. Stossel mentions that, and also says the ADA is a waste.
I had no problem with the article itself or Stossel. But I had a problem with the commenters. One guy said that “I love diving, and I can’t dive if there’s a ramp.” (Duh! That’s why you dive in the deep end.) . Another said that the reason the lifts were there because blacks can’t swim. (???) Another said the handicap parking places take up too much space, and that he never sees disabled people at the store. (I was fuming.)
That wasn’t all. I’m saving the most offensive comment for last. Let’s call the guy Bob.
Bob: What moron wants to put people in wheelchairs in swimming pools? They could more easily drown, they have much less control of their defecations, many are hosed mentally and would not understand what is happening, etc……..
That was it for me. I had to respond out of duty to my fellow disabled brethren.
My response: Firstly, look up on YouTube on how people in wheelchairs swim. Secondly, we don’t defecate all the time. Lastly, have you heard of Stephen Hawking? FDR? They were/are in wheelchairs, are they stupid? Heck, I was even on the Honor Roll when I was in High School. It was an online school, where no one knew I was disabled. Do some research before you type hateful and cruel stuff.
The ignorance of people on the Internet is just bewildering. People don’t think before they type. We all have freedom to type whatever we want to say. But we need to be mindful of what we say. If you wouldn’t say stuff like this in public, don’t type it.
As the day went by, more and more of these kind of comments popped up. I had to leave the page I was getting so angry. Then, later the website administrators shut down the comment function on the page. Thank God.
Here is a challenge I want to give these bigots. Buy a manual wheelchair, and pretend for a week your legs don’t work. Try to use a non-accessible bathroom. Go swimming at a local pool with a ramp or lift. Go to the busiest part of your city, and see how well you can navigate. Also, see if you’ll break when people treat you like you’re a leper. Then, report back with all the stuff you learned.
It will open your mind, and make you wise.